Diabetes is a disease caused by the body’s inability to produce or correctly use insulin, a hormone needed by the body to process energy provided by food and used in cells and tissues.

When insulin is not available to process this energy from food, high levels of glucose (sugar) build up in the blood, which causes damage over the long term. There are several types of diabetes, but the two most common are called “type 1 diabetes” and “type 2 diabetes.”

Type 1 diabetes

Previously called “juvenile diabetes” and often diagnosed in childhood (but not necessarily), this type of diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin.

There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

Generally, this type of diabetes develops after the age of 10. A balanced diet and regular physical activity can help prevent type 2 diabetes, often related to an unhealthy lifestyle (e.g., being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise). Recently, an increase in the number of people suffering from this type of diabetes has been observed, particularly in younger people.


Often people have diabetes and don’t know it. This is why it is so important to have yearly check-ups with your health care professional, where you can be tested for diabetes and other diseases that could predispose you to developing diabetes (e.g., pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome).

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Feeling unusually tired
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Sudden changes in your vision, especially blurry vision

Dangers of diabetes 

Diabetes that is not well controlled (when blood sugar levels are often high) can increase the risk of developing other conditions such as:  

  • Cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, erectile dysfunction)
  • Neurological disorders (such as neuropathy)
  • Kidney disease
  • Eye disease (retinopathy, cataracts)

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent the development or progression of some of these health problems.


Unfortunately, diabetes cannot be cured at this point in time. The only existing treatment is to maintain an optimal blood glucose level and prevent complications brought on by diabetes.

Reduce associated risks

Once you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you can reduce your risk of developing complications by paying close attention to your overall health and carefully monitoring your condition. Some helpful strategies include:

  • Healthy eating habits
  • Close monitoring of your glucose levels. (It has been shown that diabetics who frequently test their blood sugar levels can achieve better control. Blood glucose meters are available at Access pharma affiliated pharmacies.)
  • Exercise regularly
  • Strict medical follow-up (It is important to see your doctor regularly. This will involve blood tests to measure cholesterol and other lipids (fatty acids), frequent eye exams, blood pressure monitoring, and other tests as recommended by your doctor. Testing frequency will vary from person to person.)

Diabetes Québec

The mission of Diabetes Québec, which has existed for more than 50 years, is to inform about, raise awareness of, promote the prevention of diabetes, fund research, provide services to and defend the rights of people with diabetes.

It offers information sessions and answers, via it’s telephone line InfoDiabète, via thousands of calls from people who need information or help. Plein Soleil, is Diabetes Québec’s quarterly review that is a great information tool about the disease, its impact and how to approach treatment, both for the person who is affected and their loved ones. The organisation also has a website, which is considered a reference in the French-speaking world, that provides information for the public. Its educational service Diabétaide educates both diabetics and health care professionals who take care of them and is supported by a solid network of affiliated associations across Québec.

Diabetes testing in the pharmacy

Accès Pharma offers a diabetes-testing clinic by health care professionals. Talk to them about the disease so you can get educated about it and its’ treatment. You can also get information about diet, exercise and medication.

To download the PDF brochure, click here.

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and Accès pharma affiliated pharmacist-owners cannot be held responsible for this information. The information was true and accurate at the time of publication, but it is subject to change.

Frequently asked questions

You got more questions?

  • Here are some tips:

    • Choose quality carbohydrates
    • Monitor portion sizes
    • Include lean proteins
    • Choose healthy fats
    • Favor dietary fibers
    • Distribute meals throughout the day
    • Monitor your dietary reactions
    • Avoid drastic diets
    • Collaborate with a healthcare professional

    For more information, come see us!

    Make an appointment

  • Think you may have diabetes? First symptoms can appear suddenly (type 1) or progressively (type 2).

    Type 1 diabetes symptoms

    • frequent urge to urinate

    • abundant urine

    • excessive thirst

    • excessive appetite and weight loss

    • visual impairment

    • significant fatigue

    Type 2 diabetes symptoms

    • frequent urge to urinate

    • excessive thirst

    • slowed healing of wounds

    • fatigue

    • blurred vision

    • recurring infections

    Want to have your blood glucose tested?

    Book an appointment

  • A blood glucose test serves to capture a moment in a larger context: it instantly shows how high your blood glucose level is. Going forward, close and regular monitoring will allow you to understand the impact had by your activities, diet, medication and state of health — in other words, your entire lifestyle.

    With careful monitoring, we can help you to adapt your lifestyle and medication in order to best control your blood glucose.

    Want a professional screening?

    Book an appointment

  • Insulin

    Insulin is mostly taken by people living with type 1 diabetes. It must be refrigerated prior to opening. Once open, insulin may be stored at room temperature for one month. Extreme temperatures (frost, sun, etc.) must be avoided.


    This emergency solution is given by injection or administered intranasally to people who are treated with insulin and are suffering from severe hypoglycemia with loss of consciousness. If a person treated with glucagon remains unconscious 10 to 15 minutes following its administration, dial 911.

    Antihyperglycemic agents

    These medications serve to lower blood glucose levels. To tackle a hypoglycemia event, you should keep a source of fast-absorbing carbohydrates ready at hand.

    Hyperglycemic agents

    Certain medications (e.g., prednisone or cortisone) raise blood glucose. Their administration and cessation must be supervised by a healthcare professional—such as your Accès pharma pharmacist.


    Book an appointment

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Diabetes types

There are different types of diabetes that affect people in very different ways. But no matter the type, diabetes always causes high blood sugar.

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